Land Sharks


Delta’s lead role in Iraq gave the Army unit the inside track on the $100 million checklist of HVTs it took down there, including Saddam Hussein, his sons Uday and Qusay, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. But DEVGRU’s patience would pay big dividends when the nation’s attention refocused on the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Afghanistan lacks the infrastructure, dense population bases, and flat geography that allowed JSOC to ramp up its mission tempo to a dizzying pace in Iraq.i However, the revolutionary intelligence collection and exploitation techniques developed in Iraq, combined with the mastery of Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain that ST6 had steadily developed during the better part of a decade (a far cry from their early stumbles in ’02),ii perfectly positioned SEAL Team Six to spearhead the renewed effort with great effectiveness… and ultimately get the call to go after bin Laden.

At its lowest point in Afghanistan, JSOC was down to just a 30-man DEVGRU strike force, supported by a Ranger element.iii However, as Task Force 373 (formerly TF 11) kicked back into gear, ST6 began rotating the bulk of its forces into the country.iv

Terrorist and insurgent groups throughout the nation were targeted, among them Mullah Omar’s Quetta Shura Taliban in the south, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in the north, and the al-Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Taiba and Haqqani network, both in the east.v

With DEVGRU at the center of this staggering campaign of kinetic intensity, the pace of operations increased 50% in 2008, and the number of raids would more than double each successive In May-August 2011 alone, Coalition special operation forces killed more than 1300 enemy fighters (including 235 leaders) and captured almost 1700 more over 4000 operations.vii Of those, 500 were conducted by JSOC, which “had done most of the killing.”viii

The accuracy of intelligence and targeting was such that in 84% of the raids the primary or secondary target was either killed or captured.ix